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The future of the future

This article appears in the issue April 2006 [Volume 15, Issue 4]


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Our pages tend to be devoted to success stories and providing insight into similar accomplishments. We don't see the need to focus on what doesn't work because there is plenty to celebrate under the broad umbrella of knowledge management. The technology continues to exceed expectations, and the acknowledgement of its value and adoption rate keeps increasing. Plus, the complex integration requirements of deploying some of these tools are becoming less mystifying--customers are smarter, and today's vendors are following suit.

If this "knowledge economy" has taught us one thing it's that homeostasis in the business environment is a recipe for failure: Nothings stays the same, especially now. The wisest organizations anticipate change and encourage a culture of innovation.

With this in mind, I encourage you to reread last month's article by Art Murray and Kent Greenes about the Enterprise of the Future, a project within the George Washington University Institute for Knowledge and Innovation. George Washington was the very first university to offer advanced degrees in knowledge management, through a program developed by Mike Stankosky. He and his colleagues at GWU weren't spawned in the ivory towers of academe; rather they had successful careers in both public and private sectors before they turned to the halls of higher learning. They exemplify the admirable commitment to lifelong learning.

Nor do the students come, fresh-faced, immediately after earning their bachelor's degree. Rather, they come, fresh-faced, from the business world, to which they'll return to implement their new insights. Last month, I was lucky enough to participate in the Institute's first Enterprise of the Future roundtable in Washington, D.C. I left with the confidence of the program's importance and KMWorld's solid commitment to the Enterprise of the Future initiative, which will deliver both services and research for issues including, but not limited to, these (as outlined by Murray and Greenes):

  • expanding globalization,
  • intellectual property theft/piracy,
  • proliferation of open source software,
  • massive disintermediation, • compressed cycle times,
  • increasingly mobile and less loyal knowledge workers,
  • growing complexity,
  • disastrous consequences of poor decisions,
  • pressure to do more with less,
  • pricing power erosion,
  • reduced barriers to entry for competitors,
  • shifting work force and consumer demographics/preferences,
  • low knowledge worker productivity, and
  • the imperative of developing a culture of personal creativity and development. Next month, KMWorld will begin examining those and other issues about "the future of the future" in a regular column. We're choosing a format that includes contributions from a variety of roundtable panelists, acknowledged experts especially well qualified to address specific issues.

The next Enterprise of the Future roundtable is planned for late April in Washington, D.C., and will be aimed at getting feedback from industry. If you're an industry executive and the idea of co-creating the future is appealing, the institute welcomes your opinion and participation. Contact the Enterprise of the Future at eof@aksciences.com.


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